The Green Archers routed UST, 91-71 last Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in a resounding bounce-back from that disappointing loss to Ateneo. Leading from the opening tip, the Taft team displayed the fast pace and uptempo game that they showed to great effect in the preseason.
The team played all available healthy players, 15 in all, as the coaches opted to give more exposure to the substitutes after the Archers built up a sizeable lead. Only Nonoy sat out the game to allow his ankle to heal. Nonoy had sprained his ankle in our first game against FEU last weekend, and played sparingly against Ateneo. Only Macalalag, Gollena, and Isiah Phillips failed to score.
The team took command early in the first quarter to build a double digit lead, 22-11. They piled on the pressure in the second, zooming to a 21-point lead, but relaxed toward the end of the half, allowing the hard-fighting Golden Tigers to come closer.
The halftime break allowed the Archers to regroup, and they grabbed the initiative to build the lead back up to 20. However, small forward Austria was ejected for a disqualifying unsportsmanlike foul on Manalang.
In contrast to the Ateneo game, ball movement was better, more passing and off-the-ball movements. The 3pointer was a major weapon, with the Taft team making 14 triples out of 40 tries for a 35% clip, a pretty good average for the collegiate level. In fact, the Archers attempted more times from beyond the arc (40) out of a total of 72 field goal tries. The team was deadly inside the 3-point line, making 59% (19/32). Free throw percentage was passable, 11/15 for 73%, although it must be noted that the lower foul shots reflected the emphasis on the outside shot as opposed to pounding the ball inside the paint.
Defense was key in the rout. The Archers unveiled a mix of defensive schemes, bothering ball handlers in the back court throughout the game, occasionally pressuring the ball handler, but generally delaying the Tigers’ offense causing difficulties in setting up their plays. UST top gunner Cabanero got away with 25 hard-earned points,but he was the only Tiger to score in double digits. The Archers’ pesky perimeter defense caused UST to miss most of their 3pointers (4/21 = 19%), and overall 35% on all field goal attempts.
The Archers failed to capitalize on their size advantage, allowing UST to attain relative parity on the boards, but La Salle still won that battle 46-42. It’s something the team has to work on for the rest of the tournament.
Quiambao was a 2-way threat as usual, scoring 14 points highlighted by a 3/7 clip from beyond the arc. He reinforced the perception that he is a local version of Serbian great Jokic, as he had a hand in much of the proceedings when he was on the floor with his scoring, rebounding, assists and defense. Joshua David played the best game of his young college career with 14 points in only 17 minutes of play. Manuel provided hard-nosed defense on Cabanero while helping out on the scoring end, making 3 out of 4 triples en route to 11 points. Nelle was his usual buzzsaw self, scoring, assisting (7!), and directing the plays. Rookie Policrapio played an efficient game with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in a good all-around performance. Mike Phillips had another dunk after not having any against Ateneo; his game still has to approximate his performance last season, although he shared rebounding honors with Nwankwo with 7 each.
Green Archers face off with the Adamson Falcons on Wednesday, October 11 5pm at the MOA Arena. Like La Salle, Adamson has a 2-1 record together with NU.
Photos and statistics courtesy of the UAAP Media Bureau